Fifty-five

Fifty-five

A Chapter by Isemay

Running her fingers over the familiar writing, Syr could feel Hammersworn’s pride in the work. She hadn’t only written down the suggestions she had for securing the mine and the treasure chambers, she’d painstakingly written down the wards and spells she knew as well. Anything that might be of service. The ‘tomes’ were slim, having been bought as cheap blank ledgers and filled one after the other as she thought of things.


“I hadn’t realized all of this was here.” Orefinder pulled the book out from under her fingers. “Some of these are impressively nasty.”


“No one crossed us twice.” She gave the dwarf a small smile. “And we keep the ones we love safe. I don’t know how it is now, but it used to be that no thief or bandit would even look at the goods coming in and out of this mine.”


“My mother would pay them a visit if they did.” Sirruil came to peek at the book and Orefinder closed it. “Batran said she was the best investment he’d ever made.”


“She still feels that she got the better end of the deal.” Syr took a deep breath and looked around the room using Hammersworn’s faint memories to take an inventory, “What’s missing?”


Both dwarves blinked and Sirruil put his circlet on and moved to the shelves. “There was something here and here… more...” 


“Look for them.” 


He laughed, “They’re on the table.”


“All of them?”


Still smiling, he glanced around again and then his smile faded. The young dwarf started toward the door.


“Something has been taken?” Orefinder frowned.


“It hasn’t gone far, I think.” Syr followed the now scowling dwarves and dropped a few wards of holding behind her to secure the room.


They left the treasure chambers, and she paused to drop a few more wards, mostly non-lethal, since they were leaving the doors open. Sirruil went straight for the chambers housing the forge stores. As she entered, Syr knew exactly what was in the book that had been removed.


Orefinder grabbed hold of Sirruil and yanked him back as the pair of dwarves hovering around a table shrieked and leapt back. The flame was small but it had reached out and grabbed hold of one dwarf’s beard. 


Ripping off her work jacket, Syr cast a ward of holding at the man’s feet to stop him as he tried to run and used the heavy cloth and the tamping out spell to extinguish the flame, pulling from the reservoirs she could faintly feel around them. Then she turned her attention to the table and extinguished what was now a ravenous pillar of fire devouring it. As an after thought she released the dwarf and let him fall to the floor, moving to inspect the table. The powders and liquids they hadn’t put away had caught, the steel bowl they’d used had melted, and if the book had been there…


“I-I can’t-it wasn’t supposed to-” The second, unburned, dwarf was standing and staring at the damage in horror.


“Dragon’s fire isn’t something to make in secret, or sloppily.” She gestured angrily to the table. “Clear surfaces, only as much of the ingredients as you need, a ceramic bowl, not steel-”


“Rook.” Orefinder barked and got her attention. “Don’t help them learn.”


“It’s a tool, Orefinder. One of my best and no one knows it like I do. If they’re going to be stupid and try it on their own they need to do it carefully.” She held up her hand as he opened his mouth. “If they do it carefully, they’ll only kill themselves and not destroy the whole mine. The mage I learned it from insisted on precautions for exactly that reason. Apprentices can be replaced, your library can’t. That there are homes, forges, and children here should make precautions even more important.” 


“My mother wrote a book on how to make it?” Sirruil came to stare at the table and reached out his hand to touch the ash on the still hot stone table, drawing his hand back quickly. “And it’s gone.”


“I’ve been told that the art has nearly been lost. I’m not surprised she would have tried to preserve it. We always thought highly of dwarves.” Syr gave the trembling, burned dwarf on the ground a frown, “She and I both expected them to be more careful about it.”


“Any idiot should know not to put a book on the same surface if you’re starting a fire!” Sirruil rounded on the dwarf standing nearby, “It was valuable and you destroyed it!”


“We didn’t expect it to be so… a half-elf could make it, it shouldn’t be…” He paled as he looked at the mirthless grin taking its place on Sirruil’s face.


“You deserve to get burned if you think my mother-”


“That’s enough.” Orefinder stepped in and put his hand on the young dwarf’s shoulder. “Syreilla Hammersworn was one of the sharpest women I’ve ever met. I’ll make certain that no one who thinks otherwise has access to those books.”


“I can rewrite it, Sirruil.” Syr beckoned for him to come to her, “And if Master Aledelver will allow it, I can give a much safer demonstration to anyone who would like to watch. But she never wanted you to try it. Apprentices can be replaced, her children can’t. It is, as she wrote in that book, dangerous and it must be done exactly. There is no room for error. If you fail to start a fire in your hearth you’ll sit in the cold. If you make a mistake when mixing dragon’s fire you’re far more likely to kill or maim yourself than to ruin the ingredients with nothing to show for it.”


He nodded and she led him to the still shaking dwarf on the ground. His beard was almost entirely burned away, the skin of his face and chest looked as if it might slough off if touched and the charred edges of his clothing stuck to the burns. “He’s lucky. This isn’t bad at all compared to what he could have gotten.”


Kneeling, she held her hand out over him mouthing the siphoning spell to draw the power to heal from the stone around her neck and slowly lowering it, murmuring the healing spell. He shuddered and sighed as she touched him. The dwarf’s breathing became easier and he closed his eyes, a look of relief on his face.


As she finished, Orefinder came to inspect her work. “That’s the healing spell in her tomes?”


“It should be. If anyone has tried to go into the treasure rooms you can try it out yourself. I laid a few wards, mostly non-lethal, behind us since we left the doors open.”


He barked a laugh. “Will his beard grow back?”


Syr gently touched the dwarf’s face turning his head slightly. “Some of it may. But I doubt it’ll grow like it did before.”


“What do you think they did wrong?” He gave her a speculative look, “If you had to guess?”


“It wouldn’t have turned into a pillar of flame that way if they hadn’t been sloppy in leaving things too close and used the wrong bowl. But I would guess, since it surprised them, that they breathed on it. A single breath, or ripple on the surface, once it’s mixed will wake it. And it wakes hungry.”


“You make it sound alive.” Sirruil offered his hand to help her from her kneeling position.


“If I didn’t mix it myself I would swear that it is. Your mother mixed it for Grimgrip and it terrified him. It reached from its bowl the way Oduil reached from his cradle. Dragon’s fire trips wards like a living thing, it finds a target when you pour it, and it will reach for you the moment it wakes. Did you feel the hunger coming off of the flames before I put them out?”


“Yes.” The dwarf still seated on the ground shuddered. “It was going to devour me.”


“We used steel because it seemed stronger than…” 


She snorted and shook her head, “Steel melts. The ceramic bowls hold up better with the dragon’s fire, I’ve never understood why but they do. You still don’t want to hold them for long or let them sit close by. The flames will reach out for you. That should have been in the book.”


“It was.” The other dwarf came to help his friend. “We thought we… we thought it was an exaggeration.” 


“No. Dragon’s fire needs no exaggeration.” She grinned at them, “I breathe across it to wake it when I mix it. It makes it more potent and it’s the most dangerous way there is to use it. No one knows it like I do.”


“The Lady of smoke and flame.” Sirruil gazed at her with awe.


“Why is there black smoke pouring out of the forge stores and souring the air in my mine?” Aledelver stormed into the stores with a scowl and pointed his finger at her, “Out. You gave your word and you-”


“It wasn’t her!” Sirruil stepped in front of her, cutting him off, “She put it out!”


“And she healed young Master Whiteforge.” Orefinder lifted his hands, “Two of the younger priests thought they could take Syreilla Hammersworn’s tome on making dragon’s fire and test her methods. But they didn’t think highly of the woman as she was a half-elf and didn't pay attention to her warnings or follow her directions carefully. If not for Lady Rook they might have caused a great deal of damage to themselves and the mine.”


“Where is the book now?”


“It was destroyed in the fire.” Syr gestured toward the table. “I can replace it for you-”


“No. That’s a kind offer, Lady Rook, and I apologize for accusing you,” Aledelver gave the burned dwarf and his friend a sour look, “but dragon’s fire has no place in a mine. They can pay restitution.”


“I want the book to be replaced.” Orefinder spoke up, giving her a small smile, “I’ll take it to Bhiraldur and I intend to see her tomes of wards and spells taken there too. Some of those should be kept in a more secure place.”


“I can secure the library, that isn’t-”


Orefinder grinned at her, “You can, but no one will be able to get into it.” 


“That is what securing it means. Things go missing or get destroyed when they get handled.”


He chuckled and shook his head before noticing the black look Aledelver was giving him. “We’ll speak privately about the tomes, Master Aledelver.”


“A woman’s work stays in her home mine. If there are concerns we can separate some of the tomes and put them in a safer place but they don’t leave here.” Aledelver folded his arms.


“Orefinder…” Syr gestured with her head back toward the treasure chambers. “Syreilla Hammersworn’s things should stay here, but you and I have things to discuss, and I think I mentioned having things to offer? Why don’t you discuss the tomes you want with me?” She gave Aledelver an impish smile, “I don't steal from dwarves but Hammersworn and I were once the same person and I’ve picked up a few more tricks I could write down along with those that she shared. Nothing will be taken from this collection, not more than has been,” gesturing as she spoke with annoyance at the table and two chastised looking dwarves. “You can rely on a Rook.”




© 2021 Isemay


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Added on February 2, 2021
Last Updated on February 2, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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Isemay

Germany



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